May 17, 2011

Tasia the Sewaholic's Lesson on Fabric Selection

It's with great pleasure that Tasia, the Sewaholic is here talking about fabric selection today. And she should know just what to pick since she's leading a sewalong of her own using her latest Sewaholic pattern - the Crescent Skirt. Tasia is a great friend of mine and I was thrilled when she agreed to lend a hand to us today! Take it away Tasia!

Hi Sew-Alongers! I'm thrilled to be talking about fabrics today. When Sunni asked me to guest-post on fabric selection, I was thrilled to come over here and offer my two cents. Today I'll give you some suggestions, ideas and tips for picking fabric for your Ginger Skirt.

Whenever you're about to pick fabric for a pattern, the first thing to do is read the back of the envelope! Often the pattern designer will give you recommendations on fabrics. Following the fabric suggestions will give you the best results!

Let's take a look at the fabrics listed on the back here:

  • Medium weight fabrics such as poplin, twill, silk dupioni, wool challis, gabardine, suiting, crepe. For version 3, choose a striped fabric for a chevron effect.

These recommendations will help us pick the best fabric for the Ginger! Medium weight is the first and most important. We'll want to make sure our fabric isn't too light, or too heavy, or it won't sew up nicely.

The next clues are all fabric types: twill, poplin, suiting. Take a look at the Colette Patterns' fabric series for help on what these fabric types mean! Or refer to a sewing book - Claire Shaeffer's Fabric Guide is a great reference. As a beginner, don't worry if none of these names make sense to you right now. The more you sew, the more you'll learn!

Poplin is a type of lightweight woven fabric, often cotton. Think of a white cotton button-down shirt - that's usually poplin! Shirting is another term you might see in your fabric store. Remember, you don't want to choose a fabric that's too light, we're looking for medium weight.

Twill refers to the weave of the fabric. Think of denim - it has a diagonal stripe woven into the fabric. That's a twill weave! Twills can be lighter weight than denim, and may be made of cotton, polyester or blends. This skirt would be really cute and versatile in a denim fabric.

Silk dupioni is one of the recommended fabrics, shown in the photo below:

Silk dupioni would make a lovely, luxurious skirt! Once you learn what silk dupioni looks like, it's easy to identify. It's shiny, lustrous and has a natural slub appearance on the surface.

Stripes are easy to find! Remember to look for a stripe in a medium weight fabric.

Also, you'll want to match the stripes at centre front so they form a 'V' pattern. If your stripe is really wide and large, you may need to buy extra fabric to match the stripes. Stripes can be subtle, like the denim stripes shown earlier, or bold and bright!

If you're new to sewing, be kind to yourself and choose an easier fabric! Silks are gorgeous but need to be handled with care. Wools are easily handled but can become shiny with over-pressing.

If this is your first skirt, I'd suggest choosing a cotton fabric.Cottons are easy to sew with, easy to press and can look just as beautiful as silk. These fabrics below are cotton lawn, a slightly lighter weight than poplin. Easy to sew with and very pretty!

The last thing to think  about is the drape of the fabric. An A-line skirt pattern is wonderfully versatile! Made up in a crisper fabric, it will hold more of a true A-line shape.

Using a softer, more drapey fabric will give you a flowy, softer skirt. Hold up the fabric against you in the fabric store, and find a mirror. Does the fabric stand straight out, or does it curve and cling to the body? If you're not sure, look for something in the middle - not too stiff, not too fluid.

Another thing to thing about regarding fabric selection is to consider what you will wear it with. I love a bold, bright print, but then I'm limited to what I can wear on top. Do you have a blouse that you love, but nothing to pair it with on the bottom? Now's the time to make a coordinating skirt to complete the outfit!

Expert's First Garment

Sunni's asked me to tell you about my first ever sewing project. I've been sewing for so long I can't remember what my first real garment project was! I started off sewing as a little girl, sewing clothes for my Barbie doll, my earliest sewing memories are sewing small clothes out of fabric scraps for Barbie.

I do remember my first high school sewing project - a pair of elastic-waist shorts. It's the first project that everyone learns to sew in high school. I used a teal, purple and orange cotton Southwestern-style print that I thought was pretty cool at the time. They sort of fit, as good as a one-size-fits-all pattern fits, and I remember wearing them to gym class even though they were hideous!

If you have any questions on fabric selection, Sunni or I will be happy to help you out. Happy sewing, everyone!
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